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236                                XIFE  OF
The weariest part of the ascent was the entourage
of the mountain, which consists of rocks and chasms
continuing up to the snow boundary. This boundary
begins already at an elevation of 2460 toises, and is
-533 toises broad to the crater. It was not possible
for Humboldt to reach the brim of the crater. On
the south-western side the regularity of the cone is
broken by a mass of rock half buried in the snow,
which the natives call the head of the Inca. It is
said to have been originally the real point of the Goto-
paxi, but to have been blasted and thrown down at its
first eruption.
As lie could go no further on this side, Humboldt
went to the volcano of Aiitisaiio, to reach the utmost
practicable height of the extreme point of the Ohini-
borazo. He and his companions had already ascended to
.a height which before them no one had reached, when,
on the 23rd June, 1802, he arrived on the Ohimborazo,
and succeeded in bringing the instruments so high.
He was then 3036 toises above the level of the sea,
and suffered the consequences of the great rarefica-
tion of the air.    The thermometer stood still, as the
mercury in it had frozen, and as mercury only freezes
at 32 degrees  Reaumur, or 40 degrees Celsius, the
xeader may form an idea of the cold to which Hum-
boldt and his companions were exposed.   The rarefied
air made respiration very difficult; and as the circu-
lation  of the blood in .the  human body reqxiires a
pressure of air from without, to impart a certain de-
gree of imperviousness to all the fibres and veins, the
bold travellers soon felt the want of this pressure by
the blood flowing from their eyes, lips, and gums.
But in sight of the extreme point of Chimborazo,
only 224* toises higher, the difficulty of respiration and
the flow of blood could not deter Humboldt from con-
tinuing his journey. Nature, however, drew a boun-
dary to oppose the progress of the courageous man.
A broad, insurpassable chasm gaped before him, and
separated him physically from the top of the Chim-
towering proudly above him.